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The Wiyot Tribe's Long Path to Renewing Indian Island

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Today my guests are Ted Hernandez Tribal Chairman of the Wiyot Tribe; Michelle Vassel, Tribal Administrator; and Tim Nelson, Director of the Natural Resources Department. They are here to talk about the return of Indian Island to the tribe, the cleanup of the contaminated former boatyard at Tuluwat Village, and the recent revival of the tribe’s World Renewal ceremonies that were interrupted in 1860 by brutal massacres. 

Indian Island is the spiritual center of the universe for the Wiyot Tribe. In 2001, the tribe purchased 1.5 acres for $106,000. In 2004, the City of Eureka returned 40 acres to the tribe, and as in the process of returning an additional 202 acres. 

To read more about the long path to regaining control of the island, the cleanup of the village site, and the first U.S. EPA Site Reuse Award ever granted to a tribe, see Environmental Stewardship and Cultural Preservation on California's Coast: The Tuluwat Village Site on Indian Island in Humboldt County, California.

August 25 is Wiyot Day! Every year, the Wiyot Tribe hosts Wiyot Day to provide an opportunity for the whole community to come together and celebrate Wiyot culture, and to honor elders and veterans. The event is held at Table Bluff Reservation in Loleta, south of Humboldt Bay. Features include dance and cultural demonstrations, a Stick Game, Card Game Tournament, live music, games for kids and vendors. For more info, visit the Wiyot Day Facebook page.

For more info on Wiyot culture, language, fisheries projects, water quality monitoring, and other ongoing work, visit the Tribe’s website at